A to Z: Colic
All newborns cry and get fussy sometimes. But when a baby who is otherwise healthy has several periods a week of fussiness, high-pitched crying, and difficulty being comforted, it’s a sign of colic.
Colic is defined as crying for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks. But doctors may diagnose a baby as having colic before that point.
Colic usually doesn’t point to any health problems and eventually goes away on its own.
More to Know
Colicky babies have a healthy sucking reflex and a good appetite and are otherwise healthy and growing well.
Colicky babies may spit up from time to time just as non-colicky babies do. But if your baby is actually vomiting or losing weight, call the doctor. (Vomiting is a forceful throwing up of stomach contents through the mouth, whereas spitting up is an easy flow of stomach contents out of the mouth.) Vomiting repeatedly is not a sign of colic.
Colicky babies typically have normal stools (poop). If your baby has diarrhea or blood in the stool, call your doctor.
Help ease colic by:
- holding and rocking your baby
- burping your baby more often
- feeding your baby in an upright position
- playing soothing noises
- putting the baby in a vibrating seat
- swaddling your baby gently
Keep in Mind
Caring for a colicky baby can be frustrating, so be sure to take care of yourself, too. Don’t blame yourself or your baby for the constant crying — colic is nobody’s fault. Try to remember that colicky babies will eventually outgrow this phase.
If your baby is crying a lot and shows other signs of illness (such as fever), the cause is not colic. Schedule an appointment to see a doctor.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.